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Archive for the ‘Funding’ Category

Photo: Alyssa Haywoode for Strategies for Children

Here’s some great news: The Baker-Polito administration and the Massachusetts Legislature have just announced that early education will get an additional 2 percent rate increase.

This increase “is in addition to the 6 percent rate hike that all state-subsidized early education and care programs received earlier this year – worth $28.6 million – which was the largest rate hike in more than a decade,” according to a press release.

“The Board of Early Education and Care voted yesterday afternoon to approve the additional 2 percent rate increase, retroactive to July 1, 2017.” The increase will go to the daily reimbursement rate for center-based child care programs and for family child care systems. “The funding for the additional 2 percent rate increase was made possible through an increase in the fiscal year 2018 state budget.”

Governor Charlie Baker said of the increase, “This is a significant investment in rate increases that will help improve the quality of early education and care programs for thousands of families in every zip code.” (more…)

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A series featuring communities that have a plan to expand preschool.

Photo: Courtesy of Stephanie Adornetto

 

In Pittsfield, we know how important early education is. Children who don’t get a strong start can’t read proficiently by third grade. In our city, 2017 MCAS data shows that only 44 percent of third graders are proficient in English and only 44 percent are proficient in math. We want to see these numbers improve because, to put it bluntly, children who struggle to read may also struggle to succeed.

Because helping children takes a team approach, in 2012, the Berkshire United Way formed Pittsfield Promise, a coalition focused on ensuring that our third-graders can read proficiently. To achieve this goal, members of the coalition work closely with early childhood programs, social service and health providers, businesses, and community members.

In 2016, Pittsfield was awarded a preschool expansion grant. We are using this funding to create a collaboration between the Pittsfield Public Schools and two local center-based early childhood programs.

In this mixed-delivery model, the Pittsfield Public Schools is the lead partner and fiduciary agent. (more…)

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Photo: Kate Samp for Strategies for Children

From Alaska to Maine, states all have their own early education policies – and these policies are changing all the time. To help advocates keep up, the Ounce of Prevention Fund has released its latest state-level policy update.

It’s “a snapshot of early childhood care and education budget and policy changes in states during the 2017 legislative sessions as of September 2017.” The policy update also doubles as a playbook of good ideas that states can borrow from each other.

A national nonprofit, the Ounce, “gives children in poverty the best chance for success in school and in life by advocating for and providing the highest quality care and education from birth to age five.”

Among the policy update’s key themes:

“The groundswell of support and acknowledgment of the importance of a child’s social-emotional development continues.” And a majority of states have “strong leadership, burgeoning champions and increased interest in supporting high-quality early learning and development.” (more…)

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Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

 

What’s the cost of not having universal pre-K?

The Center for American Progress has an $83 billion answer.

“Based on research that quantifies long-term economic outcomes in states that have high-quality preschool, this analysis concludes the United States would expect to see a net benefit of more than $83.3 billion for each one-year cohort of 4-year-olds,” the center says in its article, “The Cost of Inaction on Universal Preschool.”

“In other words, every year that policymakers delay a universal preschool investment, the United States loses billions of dollars that come from preschool’s economic benefits—such as less frequent grade retention and a reduced need for special education.”

That would be a huge savings for taxpayers.

Early education also has substantial economic benefits for children themselves: (more…)

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Screenshot of New America’s report.

 

What does high-quality pre-K look like?

It depends on where you look, according to a new report from the think tank New America.

“Since publicly funded pre-K programs are guided by varying intents, regulations, and funding approaches, there is little continuity in early learning. There are uneven standards for program quality, variable hours of coverage, incongruent eligibility requirements, and competing demands for accountability.”

Despite this “uneven” practice, the research does provide clear answers of what quality looks like.

To get a sharp picture of quality, New America’s report — “Indispensable Policies & Practices for High-Quality Pre-K: Research & Pre-K Standards Review” — “synthesizes recent meta-analyses and other studies” and “analyzes existing pre-K quality standards.”

Six themes emerged from this process: (more…)

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This summer, the nonprofit Advocates for Children of New Jersey released a policy brief on its federal preschool development grants.

It’s an upbeat story – but one with an unknown ending. New Jersey has successfully expanded preschool programs. But it’s not clear what will happen to this growth once federal funding runs out.

The state made preschool history thanks to two New Jersey Supreme Court rulings that required officials to “provide quality preschool in 31 low‐income towns so that young children had the best opportunity to succeed in kindergarten and beyond,” the brief explains.

This investment paid off. “Three studies by the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) found that children who attended the state‐funded preschools showed significant progress in language, literacy, math and science and were substantially less likely to repeat grades.”

But after a small amount of additional expansion, progress on pre-K stalled.  (more…)

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Photo: Micaela Bedell for Strategies for Children

Early educators’ salaries are unconscionably low, but Massachusetts leaders are starting to address this.

The Washington Post sounded an alarm about early educators’ salaries last year, reporting:

“The people who are paid to watch America’s children tend to live in poverty. Nearly half receive some kind of government assistance: food stamps, welfare money, Medicaid. Their median hourly wage is $9.77 — about $3 below the average janitor’s.”

The post cited a report written by Marcy Whitebook, noting:

“In a new report, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley warn that child care is too vital to the country’s future to offer such meager wages. Those tasked with supporting kids, they explain, are shaping much of tomorrow’s workforce.”

Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo had shared a similar warning a few months earlier, the Boston Globe reported. DeLeo declared that the early education workforce was “in crisis.” (more…)

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